The Arkansas Traveler (song)

Last updated

Piano score for a portion of The Arkansas Traveler. While the song was originally composed on a fiddle, it has since been rewritten for several different instruments and occasions. Arkansas traveler song piano.jpg
Piano score for a portion of The Arkansas Traveler. While the song was originally composed on a fiddle, it has since been rewritten for several different instruments and occasions.

"The Arkansas Traveler" was the state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963; it has been the state historical song since 1987. The music was composed in the 19th century by Colonel Sanford C. 'Sandy' Faulkner (1806–1874); the current official lyrics were written by a committee in 1947 in preparation for its naming as the state song.


Arkansas' other official state songs are "Arkansas" (state anthem) as well as "Arkansas (You Run Deep In Me)" & "Oh, Arkansas" (both state songs).


The song is traditionally known to have had several versions of lyrics, which are much older than the copyrighted song. The official lyrics as the state historical song of Arkansas are copyrighted and can be found on the website of the Arkansas Secretary of State.

Official version

Composed by the Arkansas State Song Selection Committee in 1947.

Far and far away down in Arkansas,
There lived a squatter with a stubborn jaw.
His nose was ruby red and his whiskers gray.
And he would sit and fiddle all the night and all the day.
Came a traveler down the valley, asked if he could find a bed.
Yes, try the road, the kindly squatter said.
Then, could you point me out the way to find a tavern or an Inn?
Quite a little piece I reckon, tho I've never been!

And, when the rain came down on the cabin floor,
The squatter only fiddled all the more.
Why don't you mend your roof, said the traveler bold.
How can I mend my cabin when the rain is wet and cold?
Squatter pick a sunny morning when the air is dry and nice,
Patch up your cabin, that is my advice.
The squatter shook his hoary head, and answered with a stubborn air,
Cabin never leaks a drop when days are bright and fair!

Peter Pan version

Oh, once upon a time in Arkansas,
An old man sat in his little cabin door
And fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear,
A jolly old tune that he played by ear.
It was raining hard, but the fiddler didn't care,
He sawed away at the popular air,
Tho' his rooftree leaked like a waterfall,
That didn't seem to bother the man at all.

A traveler was riding by that day,
And stopped to hear him a-practicing away;
The cabin was a-float and his feet were wet,
But still the old man didn't seem to fret.
So the stranger said "Now the way it seems to me,
You'd better mend your roof," said he.
But the old man said as he played away,
"I couldn't mend it now, it's a rainy day."

The traveler replied, "That's all quite true,
But this, I think, is the thing to do;
Get busy on a day that is fair and bright,
Then patch the old roof till it's good and tight."
But the old man kept on a-playing at his reel,
And tapped the ground with his leathery heel.
"Get along," said he, "for you give me a pain;
My cabin never leaks when it doesn't rain."

Albert Bigelow Paine's 1st version

from The Arkansaw Bear: A Tale of Fanciful Adventure. The second version is the original version. The first version is the version taught to Northern school Children.

Oh, 'twas down in the woods of the Arkansaw,
And the night was cloudy and the wind was raw,
And he didn't have a bed, and he didn't have a bite,
And if he hadn't fiddled, he'd a travelled all night.

But he came to a cabin, and an old gray man,
And says he, "Where am I going? Now tell me if you can."

"Oh, we'll have a little music first and then some supper, too,
But before we have the supper we will play the music through.
You'll forget about your supper, you'll forget about your home,
You'll forget you ever started out in Arkansaw to roam."

Now the old man sat a-fiddling by the little cabin door,
And the tune was pretty lively, and he played it o'er and o'er,
And the stranger sat a-list'ning and a-wond'ring what to do,
As he fiddled and he fiddled, but he never played it through.

Then the stranger asked the fiddler, "Won't you play the rest for me?"
"Don't know it," says the fiddler. "Play it for yourself!" says he.

Then the stranger took the fiddle, with a riddy-diddle-diddle,
And the strings began to tingle at the jingle of the bow,
While the old man sat and listened, and his eyes with pleasure glistened,
As he shouted, "Hallelujah! And hurray for Joe!"

Albert Bigelow Paine's 2nd version

Oh, there was a little boy and his name was Bo,
Went out into the woods when the moon was low,
And he met an old bear who was hungry for a snack,
And his folks are still a-waiting for Bosephus to come back.

For the boy became the teacher of this kind and gentle creature
Who can play upon the fiddle in a very skillful way.
And they'll never, ever sever, and they'll travel on forever,
Bosephus and the fiddle and the old black bear.

Traditional children's version

I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me
I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee—Ow! It stung me!

I'm squishin' up my baby bumblebee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me
I'm squishin' up my baby bumblebee-Yuck! It's dirty!

I'm lickin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me
I'm lickin' up my baby bumble bee-Ick! I feel sick!

I'm throwin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me
I'm throwin' up my baby bumble bee-Oh! What a mess!

I'm wipin' up my baby bumble bee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me
I'm wipin' up my baby bumble bee-Oops! Mommy's new towel!

I'm wringin' out my baby bumble bee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me
I'm wringin' out my baby bumble bee-Bye-bye baby bumblebee!

Alternate Children's version

I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee Won't my mommy be so proud of me I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee—Ow! He stung me!

I'm bringin' home my baby dinosaur Won't my mommy kick him out the door? I'm bringin' home my baby dinosaur-Ouch! He kicked me!

I'm bringin' home my baby hippopotamus Won't my mommy fuss, and fuss, and fuss?

I'm bringin' home my baby hippopotamus-Ouch! He swallowed me!

Uses in film

"The Arkansas Traveler" was frequently featured in animated cartoons in the 1930s and 1940s, most prolifically by Carl Stalling in music he composed for the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes series. It usually was played, sloppily, when a yokel, hillbilly, or "country bumpkin" character would appear on screen. A slow version of the "Bringing home a baby bumble-bee" version is sung by Beaky Buzzard in the short The Bashful Buzzard .

The popularity and joyfulness of "The Arkansas Traveler" was attested to in the 1932 Academy Award-winning Laurel and Hardy short, The Music Box . In this film, the boys labored to haul a player piano up a long flight of stairs and into a house through a bedroom window. Near the conclusion of their adventure, as they are starting to clean up their mess surrounding the newly installed piano, Stan and Ollie play a roll of "Patriotic Melodies". They dance with much grace and amusement to "The Arkansas Traveler", followed briefly by "Dixie". Marvin Hatley, who composed Laurel and Hardy's "Cuckoo" theme song, was the pianist for this sequence; the player piano was not real.


Currier and Ives print, depicting "The Turning of the Tune" in The Arkansas Traveler. Arkansasturnoftune.jpg
Currier and Ives print, depicting "The Turning of the Tune" in The Arkansas Traveler.

"The Arkansas Traveler" was a popular comedy sketch on the vaudeville circuit. It revolved around the encounter of a (usually lost) traveling city person with a local, wise-cracking fiddle player. Various jokes at the expense of the "city slicker" were interspersed with instrumental versions of the song. In many versions, the city person is also a fiddle player, and as the sketch progresses, eventually learns the tune and plays along with the country bumpkin.

The contemporary singer Michelle Shocked includes a vaudeville-style version of "Arkansas Traveler" on her 1992 album of the same name. Jerry Garcia and David Grisman also do a version on their 1993 album Not for Kids Only .

In other media

Dan Hornsby Original Arkansas Traveler Part 1 (with Clayton McMichen, Columbia 15253D) 1920s version for Columbia Records and Original Arkansas Traveler Part 2 (with Clayton McMichen, Columbia 15253D)

Charles Ives uses the tune in his theater orchestra piece called "Country Band" March.

Eck Robertson and Henry C. Gilliland's 1922 recording of "Arkansaw Traveler" [sic] (Victor 18956) was selected for the 2002 National Recording Registry. [1]

The song is the centerpiece of The Legend of the Arkansas Traveler, a short "Concert Paraphrase on an Old American Fiddle Tune" for orchestra composed by Harl McDonald in 1939. [2]

Children's entertainer Raffi used the melody of "The Arkansas Traveler" for the song "Peanut Butter Sandwich," which appears on his album Singable Songs for the Very Young .

The "Baby Bumblebee" version was sung on two episodes of Barney & Friends, and one video from its predecessor, Barney and the Backyard Gang.

Pete Seeger recorded the vaudeville version of "Arkansas Traveler" for his 1954 album "Frontier Ballads" [3]

The Jukebox Band perform their version of this song in a Shining Time Station episode, Win, Lose or Draw.

Rockstar Inc. 2018 release Red Dead Redemption 2 The saloon piano players often play The Arkansas Traveller in the lineup of Western piano music among others.

The instrumental version is heard in the dance scene in the 12th episode of Call of the Wild .

See also

Related Research Articles

LaVern Baker American rhythm and blues singer

Delores LaVern Baker was an American rhythm-and-blues singer who had several hit records on the pop chart in the 1950s and early 1960s. Her most successful records were "Tweedle Dee" (1955), "Jim Dandy" (1956), and "I Cried a Tear" (1958).

Bumblebee genus of insects

A bumblebee is any of over 250 species in the genus Bombus, part of Apidae, one of the bee families. This genus is the only extant group in the tribe Bombini, though a few extinct related genera are known from fossils. They are found primarily in higher altitudes or latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, although they are also found in South America where a few lowland tropical species have been identified. European bumblebees have also been introduced to New Zealand and Tasmania. Female bumblebees can sting repeatedly, but generally ignore humans and other animals.

"Flight of the Bumblebee" is an orchestral interlude written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov for his opera The Tale of Tsar Saltan, composed in 1899–1900. Its composition is intended to musically evoke the seemingly chaotic and rapidly changing flying pattern of a bumblebee. Despite the piece's being a rather incidental part of the opera, it is today one of the more familiar classical works because of its frequent use in popular culture.

The Andantes were an American female session group for the Motown record label during the 1960s. Composed of Jackie Hicks, Marlene Barrow, and Louvain Demps, the group sang background vocals on numerous Motown recordings, including songs by Martha Reeves & the Vandellas, the Temptations, Stevie Wonder, the Four Tops, Jimmy Ruffin, Edwin Starr, the Supremes, the Marvelettes, Marvin Gaye and the Isley Brothers, among others.

The Devil Went Down to Georgia 1979 single by Charlie Daniels

"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" is a song written and performed by the Charlie Daniels Band and released on their 1979 album Million Mile Reflections.

Kind Hearted Woman Blues song performed by Robert Johnson

"Kind Hearted Woman Blues" is a blues song recorded on November 23, 1936, in San Antonio, Texas, by the American Delta bluesman Robert Johnson. The song was originally released on 78 rpm format as Vocalion 03416 and ARC 7-03-56. Johnson performed the song in the key of A, and recorded two takes, the first of which contains his only recorded guitar solo. Both takes were used for different pressings of both the Vocalion issue and the ARC issue. The first take (SA-2580-1) can be found on many compilation albums, including the first one, King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961). Take 2 (SA-2580-2) can be heard on the later compilation Robert Johnson, The Complete Recordings (1990).

Bringin On the Heartbreak 1981 single by Def Leppard

"Bringin' On the Heartbreak" is a ballad originally recorded by British hard rock band Def Leppard. It was the second single from their 1981 album High 'n' Dry. The song was written by three of the band's members: Steve Clark, Pete Willis, and Joe Elliott.

Ive Been Working on the Railroad American folk song

"I've Been Working on the Railroad" is an American folk song. The first published version appeared as "Levee Song" in Carmina Princetonia, a book of Princeton University songs published in 1894. The earliest known recording is by the Sandhills Sixteen, released by Victor Records in 1927.

"Missouri Waltz" is the official state song of Missouri and is associated with the University of Missouri.

A bumblebee is a flying insect of the genus Bombus.

<i>Today</i> (Elvis Presley album) 1975 studio album by Elvis Presley

Today is the twenty-second studio album by American singer Elvis Presley, released on May 7, 1975 by RCA Records. The album featured a new rock song, "T-R-O-U-B-L-E", which was released as its first single and went Top 40 in the US. "Bringin' It Back" was its second single in the US. The album also features covers of songs by Perry Como, Tom Jones, The Pointer Sisters, Billy Swan, Faye Adams, The Statler Brothers and Charlie Rich.

Eck Robertson American old-time fiddler player

Alexander Campbell "Eck" Robertson was an American fiddle player, mostly known for commercially recording the first country music songs in 1922 with Henry Gilliland.

<i>The Bashful Buzzard</i> 1945 film by Bob Clampett

The Bashful Buzzard is a 7-minute animated cartoon completed in 1944 and released on September 15, 1945. It is directed by Robert Clampett and features the character Beaky Buzzard. This is the last cartoon in which Kent Rogers performed voices, as he died in a training flight accident on July 9, 1944.

The fiddle tune "Orange Blossom Special", about the passenger train of the same name, was written by Ervin T. Rouse (1917–1981) in 1938. The original recording was created by Ervin and Gordon Rouse in 1939. It is often called simply The Special. It has been referred to as the fiddle player's national anthem.

(Youre) Having My Baby song

"(You're) Having My Baby" is a song written and recorded in 1974 by Canadian singer Paul Anka. Recorded as a duet with female vocalist Odia Coates, the song became Anka's first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in 15 years, since 1959's "Lonely Boy". The song became a Gold record.

HitClips is a digital audio player created by Tiger Electronics that plays ultra-lo-fi mono one-minute clips of pop songs. There is a version for young children called KidClips. HitClips were first distributed by McDonald's when they released music by *NSYNC and Britney Spears. In 1999, Hitclips earned Tiger Electronics approximately $80 million. Tiger Electronics has licensing agreements for HitClips with popular major record labels including Atlantic Records, Jive Records, Zomba Label Group, and Capitol Records. HitClips was first promoted by McDonald's, Radio Disney, and Lunchables.

Hey Lawdy Mama Blues song first recorded by Buddy Moss in 1934

"Hey Lawdy Mama" is a Piedmont blues song recorded by Buddy Moss in 1934. The song became popular among jazz musicians with early recordings by Count Basie and Louis Armstrong. In 1943, a version recorded by Andy Kirk and His Twelve Clouds of Joy, with vocals by June Richmond, was a hit, reaching number four on the Billboard R&B chart.

"Soldier's Joy" is a fiddle tune, classified as a reel or country dance. It is popular in the American fiddle canon, in which it is touted as "an American classic" but traces its origin to Scottish fiddling traditions. It has been played in Scotland for over 200 years, and Robert Burns used it for the first song of his cantata 'The Jolly Beggars'. According to documentation at the United States Library of Congress, it is "one of the oldest and most widely distributed tunes" and is rated in the top ten most-played old time fiddle tunes. According to the Illinois Humanities Center, the tune dates as early as the 1760s. In spite of its upbeat tempo and catchy melody, the term "soldier's joy" has a much darker meaning than is portrayed by the tune. This term eventually came to refer to the combination of whiskey, beer, and morphine used by Civil War soldiers.

Arkansas Traveler (honorary title)

The Arkansas Traveler is an honorary title bestowed on notable individuals who, through their actions serve as goodwill ambassadors for the US state of Arkansas. A certificate is signed by the governor, secretary of state and the recipient's sponsor, and given to the honoree during a ceremony attended by the signers.